Chelsea eased the pressure on Antonio Conte with a 2-0 win away to Hull. A switch to a new formation saw a much improved performance, which lifted the Blues up to seventh. Goals from Willian and Diego Costa secured the points at the KCOM Stadium, although there will be much bigger tests to come for the manager and his new approach.
With John Terry out once again, Conte moved to a 3-5-2 formation to add more defensive solidity. Marcos Alonso came in for Branislav Ivanovic, while Victor Moses started in place of Cesc Fabregas. Those two played in wingback roles, with Cesar Azpilicueta joining David Luiz and Gary Cahill in the centre. Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante were in defensive midfield roles, while Eden Hazard and Willian supported Costa. At times it looked more like a 3-4-3 formation.
The switch led to a pretty tough first 45 minutes. The side were struggling to get used to the new system. It didn’t have the immediate impact that it had against Arsenal. Hull had the bigger of the first half exchanges, but they didn’t take advantage of the disorganisation in front of them. The two sides were level at the break.
Things changed in the second half, with Costa hitting the post before Kante skied over the rebound. The deadlock was finally broken after an hour, when Willian curled a fantastic strike into the top corner. Costa worked hard to pick the ball up in Hull’s half, and after being boxed in he teed up the Brazilian who found some space and opened the scoring.
The second goal came just six minutes later, as Costa was on hand to finish when Nemanja Matic’s strike was blocked. The finish was quite similar to Willian’s goal. That wrapped up the points for the Blues, and they could have added more when Pedro went close late on.
After the game Conte was pleased with his side, and he praised the man who stepped in to make the new system work. Victor Moses provided something different from right wing back, and the Nigerian was impressive in the victory. He deserved the man of the match award, in his first league start for the club in almost three and a half years.
“For me, Moses played an incredible game in a defensive situation and offensive situation,” Conte said. “It’s fantastic because he’s working very hard and that’s why he deserved to play. He showed me that my choice was right.”
The Italian also pointed towards another winger who could take up the same role, “I also think Pedro can play in this way. To have wingers able to do this role is a great option. [Marcos] Alonso played there [on the left] often for Fiorentina. Like all the players, he must work.”
The new formation looked good, but now Conte has a decision on his hands. John Terry is set to return after the international break for the Leicester game. Can he play in this set up? A week later and Kurt Zouma should be back, so there’s now a few good selection problems for the manager defensively.
LCN Man of the Match: Victor Moses